- Republic Services workers represented by Teamsters Local 25 continue to strike in Massachusetts over contract negotiations. While local officials in three affected municipalities say collection service has returned to normal, the Marshfield Mariner reports some residents and workers dispute those claims.
- Members of Local 728 also went on strike in Cumming, Georgia Monday, with additional picketing in McDonough and Winder (led by non-union employees). The Citizen reports collection was delayed in Peachtree City, Georgia as a result. Picketing also occurred in Evansville, Indiana.
- Members of Local 396 also picketed Tuesday at their workplace in California. The Daily Pilot reports this delayed collection in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley. Additional picketing was reported in Chula Vista and San Diego Wednesday morning.
The initial action started in Massachusetts Aug. 29 when 24 workers with Local 25 chose to strike over the status of negotiations for their first contract. This led to ongoing collection delays in three small towns — Marshfield, Rockland and Abington — and support from elected officials, including Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III.
One-off picketing actions followed in Fall River, Massachusetts and San Jose, California last week.
Further picketing in California this week also appears to have been limited in duration, though the Georgia actions were portrayed as being part of a deeper issue. Local 728 is in the midst of negotiating its first contract for 35 workers in Cumming and a third contract for workers in McDonough.
Ben Speight, Local 728's organizing director, told Waste Dive converting from day rates with an incentive structure to hourly wages is a key issue in negotiations because it could affect overall pay. Disagreement over trading one personal day for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is another sticking point. The holiday remains a priority in waste and recycling contract negotiations around the country because King was assassinated while supporting sanitation workers on strike in Memphis.
An additional point of contention has been Republic's spending on share repurchases and dividends, which are viewed as taking away from potential spending on labor and equipment needs. The company spent $1.2 billion in those categories in 2018, with activity continuing at a similar pace so far this year.
While negotiations are said to be ongoing in Massachusetts and Georgia, Republic has yet to publicly engage about specific statements made by the Teamsters. The company successfully obtained an injunction regarding certain picketing activities in Massachusetts last week and has sought to downplay the extent of actions elsewhere.
"The Teamsters orchestrated a one-day work stoppage in the Atlanta area on Monday and also appeared to have sent two Teamsters representatives from Atlanta to hold picket signs in Evansville, Indiana. The labor actions were over within a few hours and had little impact on operations," said a company spokesperson via email. "While Republic respects the rights of its employees to engage in collective bargaining, it will not allow union pressure tactics to influence professional and respectful bargaining at the table. It will continue to work toward fair and competitive contracts."
Speight disputed that characterization, saying he heard reports of numerous trucks backed up at a Republic landfill in Indiana with a multi-hour delay, and foreshadowed more to come.
An estimated 24% of Republic's workforce was unionized through the end of 2018 (the highest among publicly-traded companies in the U.S. waste industry) and the majority of that group appear to be Teamsters. According to the union, it represents more than 7,000 employees at the company.